Recognising their outstanding role in bringing smart and energy efficient technologies to rural areas, the two companies won awards, along with nine other pioneering sustainable energy organisations, at a prestigious ceremony in London on 11 June 2015.
The International Gold Award and Ashden Award for Business Innovation went to SteamaCo, a Nairobi-based company that has developed a system to manage the monitoring, control and payments of mini grids remotely, overcoming one of the key barriers to making micro-grids commercially feasible and sustainable.
Lake Victoria’s fishing villages and other rural communities in Kenya are benefiting from clean light and power for the first time, thanks to renewable energy micro-grids. Using the natural energy of the sun, they work like mini power stations for each village, supplying enough energy to run small businesses, as well as power TVs, radios and bright lights in the home. Solar power in East Africa is not new, but what’s exciting about SteamaCo is the technology behind it: the micro-grids use an innovative cloud-based remote metering and payments system that monitors energy use, lets people pay for power using their mobile phones, and quickly troubleshoots any problems.
With around 80% of Kenyans lacking access to mains electricity, SteamaCo is helping to bring the benefits of clean energy to increasing numbers of off-grid customers.
SteamaCo’s technology can also be used to remotely monitor and control the usage of electricity, fuel and water in other applications allowing businesses to better manage their energy assets.
GVEP is supporting SteamCo in raising capital by introducing them to a number of investors and advising them on their business plan and pitching strategies.
The Ashden Award for Clean Energy for Women and Girls went to BURN Manufacturing, the first company to manufacturer cookstoves in-country at scale. Through their factory in Nairobi, they employ a large number of women, enabling them to increase their economic independence and improve their position in society.
BURN’s charcoal burning Jikokoa stove dramatically improves the health and wellbeing of its users. As well as being an aspirational household product, it cuts down on smoke and soot by more than 60% compared to the widely used Kenya ceramic jiko, and significantly reduces the time spent cooking and collecting wood. But it’s not just women using the stoves who benefit. With all the manufacturing now done in a new state-of-the-art factory in Kenya, BURN emphasises that all jobs are open to both men and women at all levels – just over half of its workforce are women.
GVEP’s Advisory Team carried out a market feasibility study looking at the market demand/potential, the operating environment, and the regulatory environment in East Africa.